Our New Politics of Torture

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Satellite imagery of “the Salt Pit,” codename for a surreptitious CIA jail and inquire core north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec 11, 2014

New York Review writer Mark Danner has been essay about a use of woe by a US supervision given a initial years after Sep 11. Following a recover this month of a Senate’s news on a CIA woe program, Hugh Eakin spoke to Danner about some of a many unusual commentary of a review and what it reveals about a continued domestic discuss surrounding a program.


Hugh Eakin: Nearly 6 years ago, we published a secret report by a International Committee of a Red Cross documenting a CIA’s woe of some-more than a dozen “high value” detainees. And now we have a Senate’s endless review of a woe module itself. What are some of a many divulgence commentary of a Senate report?

Mark Danner: There is a lot in a executive outline that we already knew nonetheless that is now told in abominable fact that we hadn’t seen before. The relentlessness, day in day out, of these techniques; a assemblage of their outcome when taken together—walling, close-confinement, water-dousing, waterboarding, a newly suggested “rectal rehydration,” and several other outrageous and outrageous things—is recounted in numbing, sickening detail. The outcome can usually be conveyed by a full reading, by page after awful page of this five-hundred-page document, that is after all reduction than 10 percent of a news itself.

What we consider is particularly vocalization new is, first, how bungled a woe module was. It was unequivocally pledge hour, commencement with a techniques themselves, that were devised and run by a integrate of late Air Force psychologists who were hired by a CIA and put in assign nonetheless they had never conducted an inquire before. They had no imagination in terrorism or counterterrorism, had never interrogated al-Qaeda members or anyone else for that matter. When it came to indeed operative with incarcerated terrorists and suspected terrorists they were radically nonetheless any applicable experience. Eventually, a CIA paid them some-more than $80 million.

The second good explanation is a grade to that a CIA claimed good results, and did so mendaciously. Sometimes a attacks they pronounced they had prevented were not vicious in a initial place. Sometimes a information that indeed competence have led to averting attacks came not from a extended inquire techniques nonetheless from other normal forms of inquire or other information entirely. But what a news methodically demonstrates is that a claims about carrying achieved essential, life-saving comprehension interjection to these techniques that had been steady for years and years and years are simply not true. And a box is devastating.

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Senator Dianne Feinstein deliberating a Senate news on CIA torture, Dec 13, 2014

This was a executive doubt a Senate review was looking at, wasn’t it? The emanate of possibly tangible comprehension was gained from torture. In essence, “Was it value it?”

From a commencement a CIA had claimed that these techniques were positively essential to saving a lives of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people. Those claims have been finished by many people and it is another explanation of a news that we see CIA people, particularly a lawyers, lifting these claims before a module even existed. The lawyers seemed to be thinking, “This is a usually approach we’re going to get divided with this.” There is a quote in a news that people would demeanour some-more pleasantly on torture—that is a word used—if it was used to stop approaching attacks. This was a ostensible “necessity defense,” which, as a CIA lawyers put it, could be invoked to strengthen from charge “US officials who tortured to obtain information that saved many lives.” This suspicion was there right from a pregnancy of a program.

So a CIA is already regulating a word “torture” in a commencement papers a Senate cabinet looked at?

This is before a module even began, in a weeks after Sep 11, when CIA lawyers and other officials are articulate about regulating “torture.” And they use a word.

And there aren’t any detainees during this point.

There unequivocally aren’t. This is right during a commencement of a Afghanistan campaign, and they didn’t have anyone, positively not anyone deliberate “high value.”

Do we get any closer in a news to an strange preference by a Bush administration or a CIA to use torture?

No, we don’t really. But we do get a spirit that there wasn’t such a moment. You design that supervision officials who make a useful preference to deliver an strictly authorised woe module in a United States would have a array of vicious meetings in that they would investigate a story of inquire as it has been used by opposite supervision agencies, they would deliberate with allies who have a story of regulating these and other techniques, about what works and what doesn’t. They would make a ubiquitous investigate of what is required and what is not. They would deliberate with authorised experts. They would do a array of things.

In this case, as distant as we can tell, many of these things were not done. We find a unclothed smallest of process discussion. We know a CIA did unequivocally small if any investigate about what would work and wouldn’t. We see no preference tree springing from a felt tangible need to do woe in specific cases, commencement with prisoners in palm who are reluctant to talk. Talk of woe itself—the wisps of a discussion, a resounding mentions of a word—start unequivocally early after Sep 11, when “high value” detainees are generally not available, let alone refusing to talk.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney vocalization during a American Enterprise Institute, Sep 10, 2014

We consider of Vice President Dick Cheney as a woe program’s many outspoken defender. Is there new discernment into his impasse during a beginning? Or of other members of a executive branch?

Cheney was concerned in a vicious justification about a Geneva Conventions whereby a administration resolved that al-Qaeda and a Taliban would not be deliberate POW’s according to Geneva standards—and, many important, that Common Article Three, that prohibits woe and cruel, inhuman, and spiritless treatment, would not request either. (The Supreme Court after overturned this judgment.) So a vice-president was unequivocally many intent with a doubt of possibly or not we could do these things.

Where he initial comes in in a tangible contention of techniques of inquire is unclear. Because a Democratic infancy on a cabinet concluded to border a news to a CIA, we unequivocally don’t have decisive answers on who finished vicious decisions within a executive bend and when they were made. We have an essential report from a Office of Professional Responsibility in a Department of Justice about how woe was approved. We have a large and immensely profitable Armed Services Committee report from 2008 about a military’s use of torture. And now we have this report, or rather this executive outline of a report, about a CIA. There are a dozen or so reports about opposite aspects of Abu Ghraib. But we still have no news on how decisions were finished in a executive branch, that is apparently critical.

The White House, including a offices of a boss and a vice-president, and a National Security Council—these 3 vicious areas of decision-making—still have not been examined. And there’s a reason for that. The Republicans refused to pointer on to a Senate review unless these areas were put over a committee’s ken. The strange opinion by a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to pursue a CIA review in 2009 was 14-1, and they got a Republicans on house by identical not to demeanour during a executive. As it was, many of a Republicans jumped boat and deserted a news anyway. Now, in their possess 167-page outline of their “minority views,” they conflict a news for “faulty analysis, vicious inaccuracies, and misrepresentations of fact” and disagree that a module was essential to gaining vicious comprehension that saved many lives.

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Former CIA behaving ubiquitous warn John A. Rizzo, Jun 25, 2013

What about a CIA leadership? One figure who seems executive in some of a support is a CIA’s former behaving ubiquitous counsel, John Rizzo, who we take it was concerned in a module from a opening and stayed in that position by 2009.

Rizzo, along with other CIA lawyers, was a indicate authority on many of these things. And he wasn’t an outward guy. He’d been during a CIA given a late 1970s, in a council’s office. He’d had a career in a CIA. And he also drafted a 2001 Memorandum of Notification to a boss that gave them extended energy to do this—even nonetheless it didn’t mention any specific inquire techniques. (The president, according to a report, was not briefed in fact on a tangible techniques until 2006.)

Again, this is right after Sep 11?

Yes, George W. Bush sealed a Memorandum of Notification on Sep 17, 2001. It’s a pivotal request and it has never been finished public. Even nonetheless everybody takes it for postulated that it was a Office of Legal Counsel in a Department of Justice that available a woe module by a ostensible “torture memos” a following summer, a strange accede comes from a Memorandum of Notification, a presidential request drafted by a CIA itself.

So a CIA is already articulate about woe before they have a consider in mind, and afterwards when they do finally have a suspect, a few months later, and this is Abu Zubaydah, this radical march seems to be projected onto him.

Abu Zubaydah is a pivotal case. He was restrained in Mar 2002 in Pakistan. He was immediately interrogated by dual gifted FBI interrogators regulating normal “rapport-building” techniques and he did produce adult a good understanding of information. He was in bad medical condition and had to be hospitalized, nonetheless he was agreeable and mild in a perspective of a FBI interrogators. The information he gave during those initial weeks of articulate to a FBI is a unequivocally information that is cited by a CIA to accelerate their explain that they got information by woe from Abu Zubaydah. These are a pivotal pieces of comprehension he gave up—that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (aka “Mukhtar”) was a designer behind a Sep 11 attacks, and a temperament of Jose Padilla, a ostensible determined unwashed bomber—to a FBI in a open of 2002.

The FBI interrogators were smooth Arabic speakers and deeply associating about al-Qaeda. And they got Abu Zubaydah to speak by normal inquire methods?

These were a customary FBI protocols—excluding torture—that had prolonged been used, nonetheless [FBI interrogator] Ali Soufan was not usually gifted with al-Qaeda, he was by many accounts a best interrogator in a government. He had interrogated a al-Qaeda suspects in a USS Cole bombing.

Abu Zubaydah had been restrained by a CIA. How was it that a FBI interrogated him first?

It’s interesting. He was a CIA’s prisoner. He was taken to a black site in Thailand run by a CIA. Initially, a CIA’s Counterterrorism Center didn’t send anyone to survey him since they didn’t trust it was Abu Zubaydah. So there was this initial delay, that authorised a FBI to start on a pursuit of a interrogation. And usually when a CIA satisfied it was unequivocally Abu Zubaydah did they start to send their possess people. And these are a troops psychologists Mitchell and Jessen, who indeed came personally, and indeed conducted that interrogation. There was this duration that they overlapped with a FBI, and Ali Soufan objected strenuously. The FBI eventually pulled out of a inquire entirely. And this is also since it was such a disaster. You have a people in a supervision who know a many about interrogating al-Qaeda members not even holding part.

And when a preference to start regulating woe is made, a Bush administration is on some turn directly concerned in a inquire of Abu Zubaydah?

Right after they got Abu Zubaydah, Bush talked about him publicly, during a fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut. And already in Newsweek, in Apr 2002, there was an article about possibly Abu Zubaydah was auxiliary or not. And nonetheless they are all blind quotes we can flattering many collect out that are from a CIA and that from a FBI. There’s this unusual official yank of fight going on in a press. Here’s this male during this black site in Thailand, and meanwhile, both bureaucracies are fighting it out about possibly he should be tortured in Newsweek magazine. It still is astonishing. He’s there, in a hospital, and officials from a dual agencies are being quoted, a FBI observant they’re removing a lot from a restrained and a CIA observant they’re not removing anything.

But what is fascinating is what seems to have led a CIA to review to this improvised, bungled program—this earthy abuse put together by dual psychologists who had no suspicion what they were doing. It was a definitely mistaken self-assurance that Abu Zubaydah was self-denial information about attacks that would have killed thousands of people. So here we come behind to a same thesis of actionable intelligence, wanting to use these techniques to find out about plots that would bluster thousands of people. So we are behind to a raison d’être of a module itself.

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Abu Zubaydah detained during Guantánamo, Apr 24, 2011

It sounds like a tautology. They have to woe Abu Zubaydah so that he will exhibit a “ticking time bomb,” and they need that explanation to transparent a use of torture. And a use of woe is formed on a fact that he hasn’t suggested any such plot.

All came from a self-assurance that Abu Zubaydah has trust of plots to kill thousands of people, and that self-assurance stems from an positively mistaken suspicion of who Abu Zubaydah is. The CIA officers are assured that Abu Zubaydah is a third or fourth male in al-Qaeda, that he is not; they are assured he is this unequivocally vicious male that would have this information many vicious information on stream planning. But he’s not. He’s not even a member of al-Qaeda. In fact, he was fundamentally in a approach of a transport representative for al-Qaeda; nonetheless since a CIA was assured that he had all this information, they suspicion that even nonetheless he was auxiliary with these FBI interrogators, he was not giving them what they unequivocally needed: information about an imminent “threats.”

Eventually, he was put underneath forced nap damage for 180 hours and waterboarded eighty-three times. It’s unusual that a final dual times—the eighty-second and eighty-third waterboardings—were imposed during a approach orders of officials during CIA headquarters, over a eager objections of a interrogators who were behaving them. The interrogators judged Abu Zubaydah was totally compliant: he usually had zero to give up.

It’s an epistemological paradox: How do we infer what we don’t know? And from this open doubt comes this anxiety-ridden self-assurance that he contingency know, he contingency know, he contingency know. So even nonetheless a interrogators are observant he’s compliant, he’s revelation us all he knows—even nonetheless a waterboarding is roughly murdering him, digest him “completely non-responsive,” as a news says—officials during domicile was observant he has to be waterboarded again, and again, since he still hadn’t given adult information about a attacks they were assured had to be coming. They kept pulling from a other side of a universe for some-more pang and some-more torture.

And finally, grudgingly, after a eighty-second and eighty-third waterboardings, they came to a finish that Abu Zubaydah didn’t have that information. So when they judged a use of extended inquire techniques on Abu Zubaydah a “success,” what that unequivocally meant was that a use of those techniques, in this brutal, abominable extended fashion, had let them prove, to their satisfaction, that he didn’t know what they had been assured that he did know. It had zero to do with him giving some-more information as he was waterboarded. The use of these techniques let them assuage their possess anxiety. And their stress was formed on finish misinformation. Complete stupidity about who this male indeed was.

You see this in this news again and again. You see that CIA domicile is positively assured that these people know about tentative attacks. And what a woe proves is that they don’t know it. And mostly a reason for this is that information about stream attacks was very, unequivocally resolutely held. That’s a approach militant organizations work. They’re mobile structures, with information distributed on a need-to-know basis. And unless we find a authority about to control a attack, or Osama bin Laden, we are going to have a unequivocally tough time anticipating people who know about stream attacks.

There are moments of clarity in a news where CIA interrogators are conceding, internally, that we know astonishingly small about who these guys are. And nonetheless this outrageous machine of woe was put into place and shielded during all costs.

We translated a stupidity into their pain. That in a nutshell is a story a Senate news tells. Our ignorance, a anxiety, a guilt, into their pain. It’s one reason since we think—looking many some-more broadly during policy—it was a grave blunder for President Bush not to reinstate people in a CIA after Sep 11. Because we had an group that out of a shame about carrying unsuccessful to forestall those attacks—guilt that extended from a executive down—could consider usually of preventing another attack. And while preventing another conflict was intensely important, it wasn’t a usually thing. And we consider here their violence caused them to work in an undiscerning and counterproductive way.

For all a speak of removing obligatory information out of Abu Zubayah, a news suggests that a CIA didn’t indeed start interrogating him immediately when it took over from a FBI.

There was this check of forty-seven days, it was bizarre. There was a onslaught with a FBI, when a CIA comes in and stops a FBI interrogations. And a news quotes a FBI interrogators as observant to FBI headquarters, “we attempted kindly to advise that profitable time was flitting where we could try to appeal hazard information.” But then, after a CIA takes over and transfers him from a sanatorium behind to a black site in Thailand, he is left in siege for 7 weeks. The genuine CIA inquire didn’t start until Aug 4, 2002.

Ali Soufan, in a new piece in The Guardian, talks about how violent it was that they were articulate about a ticking bomb, and afterwards usually left him alone, uninterrogated for forty-seven days, even after a FBI had gotten these other pieces of information. It competence have been they were scheming what they wanted to do. It competence have been they were watchful for a vicious “torture memos” from a Office of Legal Counsel during a Department of Justice. The news doesn’t unequivocally explain it.

The executive summary, among other things, is a story of an group steadfastly sharpened itself in a foot. Persistently not removing a information it should have since of a use of these techniques. These techniques, we should remember, were not usually depraved, immoral, illegal; they were counterproductive. Put another way, a United States would have been in a improved position to know about al-Qaeda and to forestall destiny attacks if these techniques had not been used. This is an unusual matter nonetheless we trust it is a usually finish that can be drawn from a satisfactory reading of a text.

Does a Senate news change how we consider about a woe program?

From a beginning, there’s been a story, and afterwards there’s been a revelations about a story. What was going on has been in front of a nation roughly from a beginning. In Dec 2002, The Washington Post ran on a front page a long article on a “stress and duress” techniques that a Americans were regulating in Afghanistan; a few months after The New York Times fronted a identical prolonged report. These were followed in a open of 2004 by a endless revelations about Abu Ghraib, and afterwards leaks about torture, including a woe memos, one of that was leaked to The Wall Street Journal in Jun 2004. The New York Times wrote about waterboarding in a square in May 2005. That year also ABC News promote a list of a techniques being used during a black sites, that had been suggested by Dana Priest in The Washington Post and Jane Mayer in The New Yorker. And we got another array of revelations during a open of 2009, after Obama took office. The border of a abuses was clearly settled in a Red Cross report, that we disclosed in The New York Review, and partly as a outcome of that publication, supervision officials said, came a preference to recover a woe memos from a Office of Legal Counsel. And again and again, we have this greeting on a partial of a public, “Oh my God! This is shocking.” And now we have it again.

But during this time—since 2005 really—the open discuss about woe has been invariably building toward a narrow-minded divide. One critical celebration has a transparent position on torture: it is for it. We see a grave flowering of this now with a announcement of this executive outline of a Senate news on torture. Republicans have come out in a unequivocally narrow-minded approach in invulnerability of a CIA, and indeed in preference of these techniques. One of a engaging things about a greeting to a news is that those who have come out to malign it have finished so in a vaguest terms. They haven’t intent with it specifically. You simply have a determined bid to make a claims for torture’s vicious efficiency all over again. The misfortune instance of this is Dick Cheney, who has radically said, and we quote, “the news is full of crap.” He hasn’t worried to review a news and doesn’t feel it required to rivet in any of a specific justification of CIA woe and a harmful conclusions about it.

Some Democrats have come out opposite a CIA actions. The many assertive embody Senate Intelligence Committee authority Dianne Feinstein, Senator Mark Udall, and Senator Ron Wyden. But many other Democrats have been quiet, including, we should add, a many vicious Democrat, Barack Obama, who has been unequivocally small in evidence. Until this week, he has radically been AWOL. Absent Without Leave. He hasn’t come out strongly endorsing a report. He has been unequivocally deceptive when articulate about a report. He has pronounced simply, “this is not who we are.” That is a determined quote from him, a word we find positively maddening, because, What does it mean? we theory it means: “This is not what we would do, if we were who we pronounced we are.” But we seem not to be who we pronounced we are since this is what we have done. If what he means is, a CIA shouldn’t have finished this since it is opposite what Americans believe, he should contend that clearly and definitively. This is, after all, or has been, his open position; that he refuses to welcome it now, apparently out of fear of antagonizing a CIA, is shameful. And it is unhappy explanation of how contingent a nation now is on a CIA, from their drones to their paramilitary assassination squads. From carrying taken a place as a lead group in torturing detainees a CIA has turn a lead group in assassinating suspected terrorists, and that, thirteen years after Sep 11, is a existence of a “war on terror.” The boss needs them.

Indeed this quote—“This is not who we are”—in all of a ambiguity is a excellent outline of a president’s position. That and his progressing matter that “we need to be looking brazen and not backward.” When any kind of accountability—investigation, prosecution, all such activities—are a heart of looking backward. And he says we need to be looking forward.

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President Barack Obama with John Brennan following Brennan’s assignment to conduct a CIA, Jan 7, 2013

The doubt remains, what kind of burden now is possible? Some have remarkable that a Senate Select Committee did not embody specific recommendations with a report.

There seems to be an arrogance that a recommendations are self-evident—at slightest a critical one, that is that we should never do this again. Which a administration has, however squeamishly, also said. But a news should have had unequivocally transparent recommendations. And also a outline that pronounced that one of a categorical commentary of a review was not simply a pain imposed on individuals, or a law-breaking, or a dignified reprehensibleness of it. It was that there was a elemental crime of governance, in that a CIA became this physique that steadfastly lied, not usually to Congress, that was ostensible to manage it, nonetheless to a executive bend to that it evidently reported.

And even to a Office of Legal Counsel in a Justice Department. The OLC, that for so prolonged in a open notice has been accepted as a executive instrument in a woe program. The news shows that a lawyers in that bureau who drafted a “torture” memos were themselves arrange of hoodwinked too, is that correct?

Yes. And indeed that would be a line for review and probable prosecution, nonetheless a administration shows no seductiveness in doing this. The CIA was indeed dubious a Department of Justice. The news shows that a information given to a DOJ by a CIA in sequence for a DOJ to make a integrity in a summer of 2002 that these techniques were legal—that information was dubious and wrong; notably, that a techniques were not practical as described nonetheless many some-more brutally, generally waterboarding. John Yoo, a author of a strange woe memo, already told a Office of Professional Responsibility during their review that if waterboarding was achieved as it was described in a press he would not have judged it legal. And a news shows that indeed a CIA achieved a technique in a many some-more heartless demeanour than it certified to a Department of Justice lawyers.

This kind of crime by hypocrisy has continued, and we see it clearly now in a open realm, in this cheerleading multitude orderly by a CIA, consisting mostly of ex-officials, who have come out publicly not usually to urge a group nonetheless also to urge woe itself. The CIA is not ostensible to be lobbying for woe in a open realm. That’s not what a billions of dollars a taxpayers give it is ostensible to be spent on.

We’re in this surrealistic world, in which, twelve years after these decisions to use woe have personally been made, we’re saying a open bid during disinformation swelling via a country, by all a media outlets, cheerleading for torture. It’s utterly an startling thing: torture, that used to be illegal, that used to be anathema, has now turn a process choice.

A choice that even now, after a report, some are still arguing for.

Exactly. In 2005, when a program, still secret, was commencement to breeze down, a critical check found that 38 percent of a open concluded that woe could and should be used on certain occasions; now that number, depending on a poll, has risen to about 50 percent. This means that a strange argument, in invulnerability of “enhanced inquire techniques” or—in President Bush’s phrase—the “alternative set of procedures,” has led us down an increasingly dim passed end. For what is a finish here? If woe was such a good idea, if it was so necessary, if it saved so many thousands of lives when zero else could, afterwards since did we stop doing it? Why aren’t we doing it right now? And we consider on a Republican side, some arguments newly have come unequivocally tighten to reporting this. So we have woe as a process choice whose recognition is growing.

It’s a deeply impolite conditions that goes over a strange choice to use woe itself. It’s also a outcome of a changeable approach this choice was treated by Barack Obama and his administration. Though President Obama rigourously abolished woe with an executive sequence on his second day in office, his refusal to take other steps—to approve investigations, prosecutions, or during slightest a bipartisan commission—means that usually his signature on that executive sequence stands between us and a probability of some-more woe in a future. If this emanate is lifted in a Republican primaries in 2016, I’d design that many politicians on that theatre will announce themselves resolutely in preference of “enhanced inquire techniques.” We competence not woe now, nonetheless since woe has turn a famous process choice, it is ideally fathomable that a domestic masters, depending on who they are, competence good confirm to do so in a future. This is where we find ourselves, a dozen years after Abu Zubaydah initial was strapped down to that waterboard.

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